White wine in the middle of winter? Sure! Especially when the white wine is lush, structured and filled with complexity.
The Masseria Li Veli is a winery located on an ancient Messapian site, dominating the fertile and sunny Salento plain. The Salento region, also known as the “heel of the boot” (of Italy), is situated in the southern part of Apulia, between the Ionic and Adriatic seas. In the First century B.C. it was the land of the Messapi, whose name meant “people between two seas”.
The property was originally founded by the Marquis Antonio de Viti de Marco (1858 – 1943), an internationally known Italian economist, university professor and Radical Party Deputy of the Reign of Italy. The Marquis had wanted to transform Masseria into a model cellar for the entire south of Italy. Although this did not happen in his lifetime, the Falvo family, owners of the property since 1999, has taken 40 years of experience in the wine business to rejuvenate the property as well as the dream of the Marquis.
The climate of this area is ideal for the cultivation of the vine with mild winters and hot and dry summers. The strong diurnal weather pattern makes this peninsula the perfect place to ripen grapes.
The soil of Masseria Li Veli is karstic, mainly calcareous and clayey with gravel and tuff. The color is reddish and sandy, highly-permeable, and rich in sub-moisture from the large underground water strata present in the area that builds up during the winter. These soil conditions allow the vine roots to access water and get through the driest summers without stress.
The vineyards of Masseria Li Veli cover a total area of 33 hectares (80 acres), mainly cultivated with native alberello trained (goblet pruned without trellising) vines, with three two-bud spurs, at a high density planting (5120 plants per hectare). The layout is the settonce or “seven twelfths pattern,” whereby each vine finds itself in the center of a hexagon. This pattern was invented by Roman military engineers who for a long time used the Latin square layout, later adopting the quinconce (diamond pattern) and finally the settonce (ordo septuncialis). Today according to Li Veli, the settonce layout with the alberello training system offers, more than any other system, an ideal combination of beneficial effects: high planting density, maximum soil exploitation by the vine roots, maximum exposure of foliage to the sun, good circulation of air, vines forming rows in all directions making cultivation easier, maximum equilibrium of plant growth (all plants have the same space, both externally and below ground).
Vinification at Masseria Li Veli involves hand-picked grapes that are then refrigerated to preserve the delicate aromas of the varietal. The grapes are pressed and then macerated on the skins for a very short period, once again under refrigeration, which promotes extraction of maximum aromatic potential, which clearly shows in the final product. Fermentation is cool and slow, which not only preserves varietal character, but also impedes Malolactic fermentation.
Among the grapes cultivated at Masseria Li Veli are the Negroamaro, Primitivo, Susumaniello, Aleatico, and Verdeca. The wine under review is produced from 100% Verdeca, a white variety that has been cultivated for a many years exclusively in certain areas of Apulia, particularly in the Valle d’Itria. Because of its great resistance to disease and adaptability to different soils and conditions, for many years Verdeca was neglected and almost never used for varietal wines. Verdeca was almost always used for blending in dessert wines or in Vermouth, primarily for export. Masseria Li Veli started making varietal Verdeca in 2009 with the intent of showcasing the lovely and powerful characteristics of this historical local variety.
My tasting note:
Lush Nose with tropical fruit and chalky, mineral hints. Medium-bodied with firm acidity – good balance. Fruity with great structure and finesse – apple, apricot and pineapple notes with intense volcanic minerality. Long finish with evolving, layered complexity – very pretty – crisp and refreshing. Not for aging.
At an average bottle price of $17.99 before the discount, this wine is a superb alternative to every day whites!